Weekly Review — July 2, 2002, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

President George W. Bush said that he would not support the creation of a Palestinian state until the Palestinian people get rid of Yasir Arafat. Bush sketched his vision of a Palestinian state, a vision that included an independent legislature and judiciary and other democratic institutions; Bush also said he wanted Palestine to be a land of free markets without corruption. “I am willing to take my chances and say that this speech will not result in anything,” said Schlomo Ben Ami, a former Israeli foreign minister. “At times I think he is talking about Switzerland and not about the Middle East.” Britain’s foreign secretary Jack Straw criticized Bush’s ultimatum, saying it was up to the Palestinians to choose their own leader. WorldCom, America’s second largest long-distance company, announced that it had hidden $3.8 billion in expenses over the last year in what might be the largest accounting fraud in history. Nasdaq dropped to a five-year low, and trading in WorldCom was suspended. Investors were said to be experiencing a crisis of faith in the capitalist system, and the Securities and Exchange Commission filed charges against the company, which was said to be nearing the end of its useful life. Xerox announced it was “reclassifying” $6.4 billion in revenue from the late 1990s. Financial “contagion” was detected in Latin America. Federal prosecutors said they had widened their insider trading investigation of Martha Stewart to include obstruction of justice. The U.S. dollar fell against the euro and the yen, and Europeans were grumbling that America was perhaps not such a safe place to invest anymore.

President Bush called on Congress to raise the federal debt ceiling before the government runs out of money; he said it was the patriotic thing to do. After some hesitation, lawmakers granted his wish. The Internal Revenue Service admitted that it had never gotten around to pursuing 1.3 million taxpayers who owe the government about $16 billion dollars in delinquent taxes. The International Atomic Energy Agency reported that 22,000 devices worldwide are vulnerable to terrorist exploitation in the manufacture of a “dirty bomb”; the agency said that every country has the materials for such a bomb and that more than 100 countries had not taken adequate steps to protect radioactive materials. The F.B.I., which issued a secret alert to law-enforcement officials that terrorists might strike on July 4, was busy checking the library records of people whom they suspect of being terrorists. Federal officers searched the home of a biologist in Maryland as part of the ongoing investigation into last year’s anthrax attacks but said they had found no evidence of wrongdoing. Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta were infecting monkeys with smallpox in hopes of creating a better vaccine for the virus. The dean of the school of public health at Johns Hopkins University said that this was “an abhorrent experiment by government idiots.” Peter Jahrling, the project’s lead scientist, reassured reporters: “We’re not interested in killing monkeys capriciously. Sometimes I sit bolt upright in the middle of the night,” he said. “I do have a conscience.”

The United Nations issued a report on China’s AIDS crisis characterizing the epidemic there as “beyond belief.” The United States vetoed the renewal of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Bosnia because American peacekeeping troops were not exempted from prosecution by the International Criminal Court. President Bush extended death benefits to same-sex partners of officers killed in the line of duty and officially transferred his presidential powers to Vice President Dick Cheney for a few hours while doctors inserted a lighted scope up his rectum. After his colonoscopy, the President went jogging. A British theater company decided to rename its production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame to The Bellringer of Notre Dame because it was afraid of offending hunchbacks. Doctors in India removed a 1.2 kilogram ball of hair from a sixteen-year-old girl’s stomach. Chinese archaeologists discovered seven ancient bronze dildos. The medicine man at the Fort Apache Indian Reservation in Arizona called for a rain dance. The Vatican banned smoking. Indonesia banned the export of logs. Britain’s Tate Modern revealed that it had paid 22,000 pounds for a limited-edition can of shit created in 1961 by the late Italian artist Piero Manzoni. “What we are doing with this work was looking at a lot of issues that are pertinent to 20th century art, like authorship and the production of art,” said a spokesman. “It was a seminal work.”

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Ashley arrived for her prenatal appointment at Black Hills Obstetrics and Gynecology, in Rapid City, South Dakota, wearing a black zip-up hoodie and Converse sneakers.1 To explain her absence from work that morning — a Tuesday in April 2015 — she had told a co-worker that she was having “female issues.” She was twenty-five years old and eight weeks pregnant. She had been separated from her husband, with whom she had a five-year-old son, for the better part of a year. The guy who’d gotten her pregnant was someone she’d met at the gym, and he’d made it abundantly clear that he wanted nothing more to do with her. Ashley found herself hoping that the doctor would discover some kind of fetal defect, so that her decision would be easier. She glanced across the waiting room at a television playing a birth-control ad and laughed darkly. “Jesus, Lord, it would be so nice if someone just pushed me down a flight of stairs.”

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Ashley arrived for her prenatal appointment at Black Hills Obstetrics and Gynecology, in Rapid City, South Dakota, wearing a black zip-up hoodie and Converse sneakers.1 To explain her absence from work that morning — a Tuesday in April 2015 — she had told a co-worker that she was having “female issues.” She was twenty-five years old and eight weeks pregnant. She had been separated from her husband, with whom she had a five-year-old son, for the better part of a year. The guy who’d gotten her pregnant was someone she’d met at the gym, and he’d made it abundantly clear that he wanted nothing more to do with her. Ashley found herself hoping that the doctor would discover some kind of fetal defect, so that her decision would be easier. She glanced across the waiting room at a television playing a birth-control ad and laughed darkly. “Jesus, Lord, it would be so nice if someone just pushed me down a flight of stairs.”

In the exam room, she perched on the table with her feet crossed at the ankles, her blond hair brushing the back of her pink hospital gown. “I don’t know what’s available for me here,” she told her doctor, Katherine Degen, who sat facing her on a stool. “I figured nothing.”

 Some names and identifying details have been changed. 

“Big, fat zero, unfortunately,” Degen said, making a 0 with her fingers. The last doctor who provided abortions in Rapid City retired in 1986, three years before Ashley was born.

The baby was due in November, when Ashley, who was a nurse, hoped to be enrolled in a graduate program to become a nurse practitioner. Getting pregnant as a teenager had forced her to put that dream on hold, but she had thought that she was finally ready; she had even submitted her application shortly before the March 15 deadline. For the first time in her adult life, Ashley felt as if her plans were coming together. Then she missed her period.

It would be too difficult to attend school as a single mother of two, Ashley knew. She had made an appointment for three weeks from now at the nearest abortion clinic, in Billings, Montana, 318 miles away. But just a week and a half ago, her husband had said he wanted to get back together and offered to raise the child as his own. Was it a sign that she was meant to continue the pregnancy? As a rule, Ashley approached her problems with resolve. She was capable and tough; she liked shooting guns and lifting weights. She kept track of her stats and checked off her goals as she achieved them one by one. Yet the dilemma before her had shaken her confidence. She leaned back and turned to watch the ultrasound screen. The black-and-white image danced. A sharp, fast thumping emerged from the machine. As Degen removed the wand, Ashley wiped the corner of her eye.

Artwork by Imre Kinszki © Imre Kinszki Estate
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Ashley arrived for her prenatal appointment at Black Hills Obstetrics and Gynecology, in Rapid City, South Dakota, wearing a black zip-up hoodie and Converse sneakers.1 To explain her absence from work that morning — a Tuesday in April 2015 — she had told a co-worker that she was having “female issues.” She was twenty-five years old and eight weeks pregnant. She had been separated from her husband, with whom she had a five-year-old son, for the better part of a year. The guy who’d gotten her pregnant was someone she’d met at the gym, and he’d made it abundantly clear that he wanted nothing more to do with her. Ashley found herself hoping that the doctor would discover some kind of fetal defect, so that her decision would be easier. She glanced across the waiting room at a television playing a birth-control ad and laughed darkly. “Jesus, Lord, it would be so nice if someone just pushed me down a flight of stairs.”

In the exam room, she perched on the table with her feet crossed at the ankles, her blond hair brushing the back of her pink hospital gown. “I don’t know what’s available for me here,” she told her doctor, Katherine Degen, who sat facing her on a stool. “I figured nothing.”

 Some names and identifying details have been changed. 

“Big, fat zero, unfortunately,” Degen said, making a 0 with her fingers. The last doctor who provided abortions in Rapid City retired in 1986, three years before Ashley was born.

The baby was due in November, when Ashley, who was a nurse, hoped to be enrolled in a graduate program to become a nurse practitioner. Getting pregnant as a teenager had forced her to put that dream on hold, but she had thought that she was finally ready; she had even submitted her application shortly before the March 15 deadline. For the first time in her adult life, Ashley felt as if her plans were coming together. Then she missed her period.

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"She glanced across the waiting room at a television playing a birth-control ad and laughed darkly. 'Jesus, Lord, it would be so nice if someone just pushed me down a flight of stairs.'"
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